To take up arms against a sea of sexists

“Take all that away, and what’s left?” “Me.”

In July of 2011, an unpleasant incident at an atheism conference prompted a much needed discussion about sexism (including careless or negligent acts of sexism). Over a year later, Jen McCreight, who did some kickass blogging in the wake of the elevator incident and is a fierce fighter for women (and men who want to treat people decently) got driven offline by a brutal campaign of harassment and threats. I’ve included a few posts related to her fight in this sexism sequence.

  1. Sexism Among Skeptics – A female atheist blogger was propositioned in an elevator late at night after given an entire talk on the way too aggressive come-ons make women feel unwelcome in the atheist movement. Here’s why she definitely wasn’t making a mountain out of a molehill. (Plus an unpleasant personal anecdote).
  2. Handling Sexism Among Skeptics – But is it really necessary to air all this dirty laundry in public? Is this really a good use of the movement’s time and energy? YES.
  3. Let’s Talk About Privilege – Living in a sexist culture doesn’t make every guy a sexist, but it means even good guys can perpetuate the sucky way our society works through ignorance. So here are some ways to wise up.
  4. In the Company of Men – In which the plural of anecdote isn’t data, but I’ve got a dispiriting one handy about how hard it is to call out sexism when you’re the only woman in the room and you’re trying not to call attention to your gender

And then, a little less than a year later…

  1. Ave atque vale, Jen McCreight – Jen McCreight is fierce, funny, and whip-smart, but she embodies all those adjectives offline after anonymous internet users who hated the way she called out sexism harassed and threatened Jen, her family, and her boss.
  2. If you can’t take the heat, turn into a tardigrade! – Why “just man up and ignore them” is terrible advice for the targets of harassment
  3. If you can’t take the heat… once more with feeling – Care to have the argument from the post above illustrated with examples from musical theatre? You’re in luck.

About Leah Libresco

Leah Anthony Libresco graduated from Yale in 2011. She works as an Editorial Assistant at The American Conservative by day, and by night writes for Patheos about theology, philosophy, and math at www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked. She was received into the Catholic Church in November 2012."

  • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

    I think Mike Gene at Shadows to Light had a good point about Jen McCreight.

    Specifically what he pointed out about this part of Jen McCreight’s sign-off letter, salient part bolded:

    So, goodbye for now. Maybe I’ll be back eventually, if the hatred subsides. Who knows. Maybe the horde of haters will take up knitting as their new hobby, or a time machine will be invented and I can go back to when we were all happy giggling at creationists together without hurling slurs at any woman who dared to be too uppity. But until then, I need to focus on keeping myself sane and happy – and that’s just not going to happen within the toxic atheist community.

    So, there it is.

    Mocking, laughing at religious believers? Creationists? Catholics? Tee-hee-hee, just having a little fun! :) :) :)

    Mocking, laughing at feminists? Women? Jen McCreight? Well, this is a wave of intolerance and hatred – a grim moment. Bow your heads, people.

    That’s not to justify what happened to McCreight. It’s just to point out the hypocrisy in play here. McCreight seemed to be A-OK when hatred and mockery and insults and slurs were directed against people she disliked. It’s when it turned on her that suddenly tone and respect became a big problem – and what’s her sign off wish? “Gosh, I wish we could go back to the good old days, when you guys did this to Catholics and Intelligent Design proponents, and not me.”

    • e.e.

      There are a couple things wrong with your comment, i think. First, Jen’s ideas and beliefs were not being attacked – she herself was harassed as a person. People weren’t tearing down her feminism or her atheism – they were tearing down her. Second, Catholics and creationists in the US are not beaten, raped, or otherwise mistreated for being creationist/Catholic. The mistreatment of the people Jen may have been critical towards were not and have not be systemically oppressed in nearly the same way or degree that females have faced. Women face domestic abuse, rape, violence, harassment and other issues simply because they are women.

      If I had to guess, as a woman, I would say it probably wasn’t the turn that changed her tone – it was fear.

      • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

        First, Jen’s ideas and beliefs were not being attacked – she herself was harassed as a person.

        Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

        She herself will say that she was being attacked because of her beliefs and ideas. Oh, they were mocking and insulting her, going way beyond making fun of her actual beliefs? Again, standard practice against atheists.

        Second, Catholics and creationists in the US are not beaten, raped, or otherwise mistreated for being creationist/Catholic.

        Beaten and raped? Maybe not at the moment. Then again, McCreight wasn’t complaining about the beatings and rapes she was experiencing. She was complaining about the verbal abuse, harassment, and more, which stemmed from what she believed. And yes, that’s not only something religious believers experience online, it’s pretty much the foundation of the modern atheist movement McCreight was happily a part of. There’s a Blasphemy Day hosted each year by “skeptics”. Laugh at feminism day? Not to my knowledge.

        The mistreatment of the people Jen may have been critical towards were not and have not be systemically oppressed in nearly the same way or degree that females have faced.

        First off, this is insane. We’re fresh out of a century where religious people were flat out killed en masse in some countries. We live in a century where Christians are mocked and belittled on primetime TV on a regular basis, where religious believers are oppressed in atheist countries throughout the world, and worse. Even in this country, Catholics specifically have been ‘systematically oppressed’ for a long time, and considering political trends, that’s continuing now. Thankfully, the rapes, beatings, and executions are only taking place in other countries, not so much here.

        Besides, what moral calculus are you using where McCreight’s behavior is okay on the grounds that ‘Well women get it worse, I imagine’?

        If I had to guess, as a woman, I would say it probably wasn’t the turn that changed her tone – it was fear.

        You’re going to have to do a lot more than guess, because McCreight spelled out her reasons for pulling out of the blog – and she said it was explicitly the harassment, the tone, the mockery, and the fear it would spread to her loved ones. So, after spending years encouraging or turning a blind eye to the tone of mockery, disrespect, insult, and harassment that pretty much distinguishes the New Atheist movement as unique entity, McCreight suddenly finds herself on the receiving end of the behavior she helped encourage. One would think the big lesson here would be “Gee, Jen – maybe you should have encouraged an atmosphere of respect and understanding before, instead of hoping you’d always be on the right side of the wave.”

        She even said explicitly that she wishes she could go back to the good old days, when everyone (you know, the people currently mocking her) focused their attention on those creationists. Because mocking, harassing, slandering and threatening a woman is a horrible thing… but creationists? Those jackasses deserve it.

        Right?

        • Will

          I like your creationist comments are spot on.
          I find that the religious right creationists in America
          have influence in education and government is inappropriate.
          I also hypothesize that creationists assciated with the religious right
          (synonymous terms from what I’ve seen so far in Texas) are
          respinsible for much of the backlash against the church.
          Churches have tax free status, yet regularly engage in the political
          arena (reference , texas, Kentucky Tennessee as examples).
          As such, I don’t see Christians as persecuted much. I do see the
          fundies as persecutors however. These of course are my perceptions
          and opinions> I appreciate and found interesting your thoughtful and well written post.

      • Ted Seeber

        ” First, Jen’s ideas and beliefs were not being attacked – she herself was harassed as a person. ”

        I identify so much with my autism, and with being a Catholic, that I fail to see the difference. My personhood is *directly* related to my ideas and beliefs- my body is directly related to my soul- and I find it hard to understand how you can separate them.

        • leahlibresco

          Attacking someone’s theology, even if it very important to them, is different than threatening to come to their house and physically harm them.

    • kenneth

      It’s not really hypocrisy in the sense that atheists never really claimed to be nice people as a group. They’re probably as tribal as any other cultural demographic in the culture wars these days. Her point I think is that it really sucks to be backshot by your own kind. I think atheists find it especially galling because they figured they were free of the misogyny which arises from Christian religions. Christianity and its cultures do have very rich reserves of misogyny and sexism, but it turns out they don’t have a monopoly.

      • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

        It’s not really hypocrisy in the sense that atheists never really claimed to be nice people as a group.

        Sure they did, hence all those “you can be good without God” and “this is the face of atheism” talks. Granted, it’s an inconsistent and contradictory set of messages, but it’s been out there as a front at the very least for New Atheists.

        I think atheists find it especially galling because they figured they were free of the misogyny which arises from Christian religions.

        How could “atheists” find it especially galling, when McCreight was attacked by atheists? It’s not like the Band of Theistic Misogynists rose up here. You certainly don’t have to turn in your atheism card once you have a very low opinion of women, or dive for namecalling.

        By the way, Sarah Palin endures far, far worse than McCreight did. Can I count on the Great Defenders of Women to denounce Bill Maher and others when that happens? Because right now, with some esoteric exceptions, the same defenders seem capable of turning a blind eye to it. It’s almost as if, just as McCreight could roll with insults and smears and such when it was against Christians and the rest, self-proclaimed defenders of women’s rights know to keep their mouth shuts when the woman under assault has the wrong views.

        Not that I’m a Palin fan, but really, the hypocrisy is exceptional.

        Christianity and its cultures do have very rich reserves of misogyny and sexism, but it turns out they don’t have a monopoly.

        Indeed, it looks like secularism, atheists and feminists themselves (see how abortion’s been turning out with regards to sex selection) can outdo Christianity on misogyny any day of the week.

        • kenneth

          Palin was and is a blithering idiot who celebrates her ignorance while carrying herself as the smartest person in any room. She used her supposed aspirations for the White House, and even the goodwill of her sincere followers, as a springboard to reality show celebrity. She deserves ridicule as a person, not a woman, and having a Y-chromosome and penis would not have changed that in the least.

          • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

            She deserves ridicule as a person, not a woman, and having a Y-chromosome and penis would not have changed that in the least.

            So, all that ridicule she gets as a woman – all the gender-specific slurs and attacks against her, the editing of pictures of her into porn, etc – you condemn that and have been condemning that, right? Also, your own mitigated complaints here… if that was said about McCreight or a woman with the ‘right’ political views, it’d be evidence of misogyny. A woman who thinks she’s smart? How dare she be uppity and have confidence!

            Let me tell you what I think actually happens for a lot of self-described ‘defenders of women’ – they laugh at it. They turn a blind eye to it. They talk about something else. Because, at the end of the day, you can do all of the things that was done to McCreight, and so long as you’re doing them to Palin or a woman politically similar to her, that’s okay.

            Misogyny is widespread. The funny thing is, it’s got a serious foothold in the community claiming to fight misogyny.

          • Ted Seeber

            And thus, you’ve just proven the previous poster right about atheists and left-wingers in general. Thin skins with sharp tongues.

          • kenneth

            “So, all that ridicule she gets as a woman – all the gender-specific slurs and attacks against her, the editing of pictures of her into porn, etc – you condemn that and have been condemning that, right?…”

            Well, yes, I have and I do. It turns out my influence with pornographers is limited, despite the modest business I’ve given them over the years. I can only control what I say and do. From day one, my criticisms and mockery of Palin have been focused on her dismal qualifications as a candidate and aspects of her character that make her, in my opinion, a putz. That has nothing to do with her gender or looks. I consider Herman Cain and Rick Perry to be putzes for many of the same reasons.

          • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

            Well, yes, I have and I do.

            Agreed. People who make porn of Palin, who mock her with slurs about her gender and sexuality and so on? They’re reprehensible and should be ashamed of themselves. Like Bill Maher. That guy should be off the air.

            Glad to see you on board with this one, kenneth.

        • Brian Westley

          It’s not really hypocrisy in the sense that atheists never really claimed to be nice people as a group.

          Sure they did, hence all those “you can be good without God” and “this is the face of atheism” talks.”

          That’s not claiming atheists are nice people as a group; the first is denying that atheists are all BAD as a group, and the second is merely showing atheists as typical people. Both of these claims allow for not-good atheists.

          • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

            That’s not claiming atheists are nice people as a group

            There’s something unintentionally hilarious about interpreting those campaigns as “Atheists: Yeah, most of us are complete jerks. But hey, a token few aren’t! *The More You Know*”

      • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com Smidoz

        “As religion declines, we are becoming ever more civilised.” – Richard Dawkins

        Of course atheists never claimed to be nice people. As religion declines, weapons are becoming more devastating. As religion declines, schools are becoming more violent. As religion declines, women are becoming more objectified in the media. Need I go on? Perhaps there is no connection at all, & the fact that Dawkins can’t see that, makes me question whether he is a scientist trying to find the truth, or a dogmatic faithful utilising his confirmation bias to forward his faith.

        Dawkins; Hitchens; Harris as well as the bulk of the New atheist blogosphere expend much of their time shouting about what a nasty prick the Abrahamic God is, but if they are nasty pricks who don’t claim to be nice, they are hypocritical, & Crude’s statements stand.

        • Alan

          “As religion declines, weapons are becoming more devastating. As religion declines, schools are becoming more violent. As religion declines, women are becoming more objectified in the media. Need I go on?”

          Hmm, #1 is clearly driven by increasing technological ability – Christian Europe did just fine making increasingly devasting weapons for centuries – to the extent that modern science has improved due to a decline in religion maybe it is an indirect cause but I am suspicious of that hypothesis. #2 is just not true, schools are less violent now than they were 20 years ago yet religion has declined, and #3 may be true since the extent of media has increased with technology but I doubt the rate of objectification is all that different from any other time in recorded human history.

          So yes please go on.

          What is fascinating is that anyone is shocked that people expect to be treated better by their own group than their group treats outsider and that so many on responses here seem to think it is an ‘atheist’ problem as opposed to a problem of how humans in groups treat those not in their group – or more specifically, they are willing to make it about atheists rather than note how it is just as common a failing of their own theistic groups. My own hypothesis is that the internet, even is areas like Patheos that superficially enable a lot of inter-group mixing, has made it as easy for groups to isolate themselves as it was in the pre-modern era. Its almost seems as though it is making communication and integration in diverse countries more difficult than just 20 years ago.

          • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com Smidoz

            On 1, congratulations on missing my point, yes, there probably isn’t a connection between this and the decline of religion, just like there probably isn’t a connection in Dawkins’ statement. Dawkins is claiming a connection between religious decline and a better world, but the New Atheist movement is as much a problem as any religious dogma, as illustrated by this incident.

            On 2, ok, let’s go back 30-50 years, since religion has been on the decline for more than 20 years, metal detectors in schools? People shooting their class mates? Really? Of course schools are les violent now.

            On 3, I don’t really care what you think, you weren’t around at any other time in history. The media clearly objecitifies women more than it did 30, 40, 50 years ago, this is measurable, your opinion is not.

            I’m not pretending that the problems being talked about here are expressly atheist, just pointing out that atheists are as bad as the religions they criticise, & hiding behind, “well we don’t claim to be nice” is hypocritical. I have had people say this to me: “your God is an arsehole if He exists, why doesn’t he do something about poverty?”
            “What are you doing about poverty?”
            “That’s irrelevant, I don’t pretend to care.”

            So, as far as I can tell, atheism is a religious dogma based on the not empirical premise that everything must be empirical. At least religious people admit to having faith, the denial of the fact that atheism is faith based is the greatest lie atheists tell themselves.

            A further comment on #1, atheists attack all religious ideas because some ideas have been misused, they throw the baby out with the bathwater. As you pointed out, weapons are the result of scientific advance, so, how many of us are willing to toss all scientific ideas, because a misuse of some of them leads to bad things. Some consistency please.

          • Alan

            Ok, so your point is since Dawkins made a silly statement you should too?

            With #2, while you assert it is clearly so that is just because you don’t feel the need to validate it with facts – sure, metal detectors are in schools now but school shooting aren’t a recent phenomenon and school violence even less so. Congressional hearings on increasing school violence date back to the 50′s at least, school violence as a societal concern is found in basically every era in this country’s history. That we only have detailed data going back 20 years (which happen to contradict what is obvious to you) doesn’t mean that they didn’t happen. This isn’t even a new talking point, it just hasn’t adjusted to the period where we have actual data to show it doesn’t make sense. Some people still want to believe that the top problems in schools in the ’40s were chewing gum and running in the halls (per the faux ‘study’ that was a popular data point 20 years ago).

            On #3, I don’t really care what you think, you weren’t around at any other time in history (well that settles it then). Because clearly objectification of women is a modern phenomena…

            I’m not here to defend people who use atheism as their banner for personal power and group identity needs. But the woe is us taking religion out of our schools is causing societal downfall whining isn’t an improvement.

            As for your last paragraph, the proper reason for atheists to argue against (attack is simply for people with too much free time and a computer) religious ideas is not because some have been misused but because all are false.

          • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com Smidoz

            You really make a concerted effort to not get the point, don’t you? No, my comments were illustrations, to illustrate how stupid his was, hence, in my original comment, i pointed out that there was possibly no connection. This is something yo still fail to grasp since you have accused me of making violence in schools about religion, my point is that we can’t just make assumptions about things that probably aren’t linked being linked, like society improving because of atheism.

            I didn’t say that there was no objectification of women in earlier times, i just pointed out that you can’t quatify it, but like i said, you make a concerted point, not to get the point.

            Now, please prove your final statement, that all religious ideas are false, or is that just another silly statement like those Dawkins makes.

          • http://www.smidoz.wordpress.com Smidoz

            Sorry, I made an error there, probably not to difficult to work out, but you seem to battle with the explicit, so I’ll explain. the last part of my third paragraph was a repeatof my opening remark.

  • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

    standard practice against theists, that is.

  • http://thinkinggrounds.blogspot.com Christian H

    Can I ask about your title? It’s from a soliloquy that seriously contemplates suicide as a way to free oneself of “a sea of troubles,” or of sexism, in your changed version. I’m not making a criticism; it just seems strange to allude to suicide and then not discuss it. Maybe the news of Amanda Todd’s recent death, explicitly attributable to misogynistic harassment, is not making media waves in the States, but here in Vancouver it certainly is, so the connection between misogyny and the pandemic of suicides by teen girls is glaring.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_of_Amanda_Todd
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyHX7wMJBY0

    • http://thinkinggrounds.blogspot.com Christian H

      Oh, trigger warnings for those links, especially the YouTube clip, which is almost-but-not-quite her suicide note.

    • http://reluctantliberal.wordpress.com Reluctant Liberal

      Content note: sexting, Amanda Todd, suicide

      I can’t speak for how much coverage Amanda Todd’s death is getting anywhere else, but it definately got covered on CNN where I am. Though, of course, they linked the story to sexting rather than misogyny. And they didn’t make connections to any larger trends of female suicide.

      Good ole CNN: Context Not Needed.

      • http://thinkinggrounds.blogspot.com Christian H

        Oh. OK. The news here linked it to the Internet and bullying. It’s mainly bloggers and independent newspaper columnists who are linking it to misogyny.

      • Ted Seeber

        Sexting is a huge part of mysogyny that is quite often overlooked. As is the site “Takecaredownthere.org” which is supposedly put forth by Planned Parenthood, one of the most mysogynist organizations in America today.

        I understand now. It’s all about rape and the fear of rape. But what guys, especially liberal guys, don’t get (and what our culture tries to hide) is that rape can be consentual.

        http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/2012/10/my-definition-of-rape.html

        Amanda Todd may or may not have ever met a guy for sex. But you can bet she was raped.

        • leahlibresco

          Before you reply, keep in mind that Ted does not use a definition of ‘rape’ I’ve heard anywhere else, and he seems to be sticking with it. Please don’t have a long thread of everyone registering that this is not what most people use the word to mean and that non-standard uses of highly charged words are confusing. I have just done it for everyone.

          • http://reluctantliberal.wordpress.com Reluctant Liberal

            And that is why I find the practice of deconstructing language so helpful. The idea of hiding the REAL meaning of a word is nonsensical. A word’s meaning is determined by its use. And while a use can be more common or less common, or more precise or less precise, it either adequately conveys meaning to an audience or it doesn’t.

            Which is a long way of saying that since I don’t follow links to sites I don’t know, I have no idea at all what Ted is talking about.

    • Iota

      @ Amanda Todd
      I watched the video and, good God, so many red flags…

      Here’s what I can see in her video:
      - Things you do on the Internet never go away (so you are punished MUCH worse than if you did the same thing in non-digital life because back then people would not have recorded and blackmailed you with it, most of the time).
      - The Internet is a public space. Even when we collectively forget about it.
      - People can be and sometimes are criminally stupid on the Internet in a way they would much rarer dare be in “real life”
      - School culture can be highly toxic
      - Some (most?) people really need an authority-friend to try to stop them from making some very bad choices life and, on the basis of Amanda’s video by itself, I get the feeling she maybe had none.

      I think I need to thank God I was teendaged before the age of digital madness. It would have made things much worse. And I didn’t even do anything especially stupid or dangerous. It must be absurdly difficult now for people who are already slightly unstable (teenagers are unstable almost by definition). And, if I dare say so, I’m afraid many “adults” aren’t helping…

  • http://bensix.wordpress.com BenSix

    One thing that’s been grim about this schism between atheists is the gross behaviour on both “sides” that’s been tip-toed around in the cause of attacking gross behaviour on the other “side”. Evidence, I guess, that the worst problems of tribalism don’t disappear once you’ve junked religion.

    • jose

      Ah yes, both sides have pages like this.

    • jose

      Look at this piece of meaningful commentary. Clearly the other side is just as much obsessed with… someone. Don’t know who, but someone, probably.

      This is an asymmetrical situation.

  • deiseach

    Gentlemen -and I mean that form of address most pointedly – this post is not about “Religion or Atheism – which is meaner to women?” and it most certainly is not sidetracking to “Religious or Atheist – who has it tougher?”

    It is about how women have to deal with a particular problem living in our current society, and how men are ignorant of that problem, and how they don’t listen to women’s experience when trying to address that problem.

    Thank you all for demonstrating the very point so succinctly.

    • leahlibresco

      OH MAN THIS.

      • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

        My response to deisach applies here. I maintain that the skeptic community was not only wrong in its treatment of McCreight, it is wrong in its treatment of religious people – and McCreight was wrong to encourage or ignore it.

        You disagree?

      • deiseach

        My sister female, shall we retire to the withdrawing room while the gentlemen discuss these matters which are too weighty for our fragile feminine temperaments? I am sure there are some amusing pictures of adorable kittens which have recently been posted on the Internet with which we could occupy our time until our betters are ready to leave!

        Or perhaps we could find valuable instruction from this pertinent public service announcement!

        • leahlibresco

          Let’s take a turn about the room.

        • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

          My sister female, shall we retire to the withdrawing room while the gentlemen discuss these matters which are too weighty for our fragile feminine temperaments?

          You know what, deisach? If someone disagreeing with you on this subject immediately snaps you into barely being able to talk without ‘intemperate and vulgar language’, accusations about how said person’s statements are equivalent to saying ‘that girl deserved to be raped, look at her skirt’, and this kind of passive-aggressive insanity, then yeah – you may well be way too fragile for conversation, and should probably consider doing something else.

          Not because you’re a woman, but because you’ve got skin so thin it’s probably translucent.

          • deiseach

            La, sir, I am so overcome, I must immediately retire to my chaise longue for copious applications of hartshorn in order to stimulate my over-strained sensibilities!

            Oh, you have discovered and revealed my secret – I am too feckin’ old to put up with any more male privileged bullshit and I don’t care about being a ‘nice young lady’ anymore.

          • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

            Deiseach, would you like to have tea with me sometime? We can wear lace and gloves and talk about girly things to our hearts’ content.

          • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

            Oh, you have discovered and revealed my secret – I am too feckin’ old to put up with any more male privileged bullshit and I don’t care about being a ‘nice young lady’ anymore.

            Again: it’s not a “nice young lady” thing. It’s a “sanity” thing.

            Specifically, when you react this way? You’re showing you don’t have enough of it.

            I pointed out that McCreight harmed the very movement she was trying to help. Sadly, you are too. When you react to someone saying something you dislike with barely restrained fury, accusing them of saying things they simply did not say, passive aggression and flat out hostility, you’re not a bold and capable member of the glorious sisterhood, fighting against male privilege – even if some others stick up for you. You’re actually coming across as pretty freaking nuts, and making it far more likely that men and women who see your attitude will think “Well, apparently this movement is composed of crazies”.

            I know, I know. Male privilege there – a guy disagreed with you. A guy thinks you’re behaving wrong on a subject about WOMEN. Sin of all sins and all. But while you’re trying to think of how your next adorable ‘I am a shocked princess from centuries ago’ reply goes, you may want to consider the fact that you’re making some mistakes here.

    • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

      It is about how women have to deal with a particular problem living in our current society, and how men are ignorant of that problem, and how they don’t listen to women’s experience when trying to address that problem.

      No, deisach, it was not.

      This thread was about Jen McCreight. It wasn’t a general post about the problems women face. It was a fairly specific post about a particular woman. A woman involved in a movement that regularly, as a rule and a point of pride, relies on attacks, slurs, harassment, disrespect, mockery and otherwise to deal with people they dislike. A woman who turned a blind eye to all of that and even encouraged it, until it was turned against HER. A woman whose signoff message essentially was ‘I sure wish we could go back to the good old days, when we all harassed creationists together, instead of me being harassed’.

      She made mistakes. She was, in fact, a hypocrite. That should be pointed out.

      Oh, and it doesn’t excuse the treatment she received. Not at all. On the flipside, her receiving it doesn’t excuse HER of the treatment she turned a blind eye to and encouraged. Nor does it absolve her of the partial responsibility for that very treatment – not because ‘she’s a woman’ or ‘she was asking for it, look at the way she dresses’ or any other gender-specific crap. Her responsibility came from being silent in the face of, or happily encouraging, quite a lot of the stuff that ended up whipping around and biting her ultimately.

      Those two topics are interwoven – when you encourage and justify harassing, belittling, mocking, insulting and degrading people you disagree with, you’re directly or indirectly helping create the very culture that is toxic for women as well. With regards to McCreight’s ‘fighting for women’, insofar as she encouraged or ignored degrading insults, mockery, and the like to religious people, she failed in her fight for women.

      • deiseach

        My first impulse is to use some intemperate, not to mention vulgar language, in order to pithily express my opinion of where this discussion has been derailed.

        However, let me try this once to explain what it’s like from this side of the chromosomal divide. I’m not talking about “are atheists/believers mean to believers/atheists and does that justify the same treatment being dished out to them?” That’s a different topic and I’m not going to talk about it because that’s one more way in which the discussion has shifted from “women’s experience of sexism” to “she deserved it because she was a hypocrite.” In other words, dear sirs, you are blaming her for being raped because she wore a short skirt. YES, YOU DAMN WELL ARE, WHEN YOU START CALLING HER A HYPOCRITE.

        This is about one woman’s experience within a culture she believed was sympathetic to her and to the rights of women in general, and how she found that principle varied from practice. It happens everywhere. I mean everywhere. Let me give you an example from Holy Catholic Ireland in the 1980s.

        I trained as a laboratory technician (biology), and in the third year of my diploma, we all had to go on six months’ work experience. I won’t name the place save to say that it was a dairy processing plant. Myself and another girl from the class were assigned to work here. It was predominantly male workforce; there were women working in the labs on the second and third floors, but on the ground floor (where we started off), the shop floor was all male and the personnel were all male.

        I was just turned twenty. Most of the men were fifteen to twenty years older and married. And they had all the sexual sophistication of twelve year olds. They talked about sex around us (not to us, but around us); there were pornographic magazines (illegal in Ireland at the time, by the way) in the drawers of the cabinets which they swapped around (so if I needed to get a screwdriver to adjust a piece of lab equipment, I was likely to get an eyeful of a posed blowjob in a mucky magazine); they talked about women in terms of pieces of meat.

        And I think, looking back at it, I was probably sexually harassed – I was too green and inexperienced to know at the time or make a fuss, but the lab boss used to stand uncomfortably close behind me (and by “uncomfortably close”, I mean “so close I had to rock forward on my toes so as not to touch him”) and put his arm around my shoulders, etc. Did I complain? No, but I moderated my behaviour so as to avoid any opportunities that would occur. Things got better when I shifted up to one of the labs where there were more women working, and I worked quite amicably with one of the guys there – and no sniggering jokes, dirty magazines, or ‘dropping the hand’ happened between us (he was also younger, so maybe that had something to do with it).

        And that, gentlemen, is how women navigate in this modern day world of ours. This kind of carry-on is why you have to sit through boring presentations by the Human Resources department on sexual harassement and anti-bullying policies. And why you have to listen to women whining on the internet about guys just innocently trying to ask them out or pay them a compliment.

        • Ted Seeber

          I’m more blaming women for being afraid of rape after doing everything she could to encourage men to abandon their objective morality, abandon their religion, and have the government, under the guise of funding women’s health, poison women to remove their fertility in order to make them more sexually available to men.

          The hypocrisy blasts both ways, unfortunately.

          You can’t support Planned Parenthood without supporting soft-core porn. And rape. And the very culture that killed (a suicide due to harassment is a murder) Amanda Todd. It’s all one and the same thing- the mistake of the hippie generation, the sexual revolution.

        • Mr. X

          “In other words, dear sirs, you are blaming her for being raped because she wore a short skirt. YES, YOU DAMN WELL ARE, WHEN YOU START CALLING HER A HYPOCRITE.”

          I’ve no idea why you think that “The atheist community is generally nasty and bigoted, and McCreight was fine with this until she happened to be on the receiving end” implies “Women who wear short skirts are to blame for being raped”.

          • Kristen inDallas

            Both are justifications of things which ought not be justified. I can reword your second statement to mirror the first (without the obvious blame): “The male population is generally lustful and aggressive, and short skirt girl was fine with this until she happened to get advances that she didn’t like.” But the implication is still there. Group X is a dumb monolith that can’t help itself, person Y cooperates in some way with that monolith and is eventually treated badly, person Y should have known better and deserves no pity.

          • Mr. X

            I’ll let others speak for their own motivations, but I wasn’t trying to defend the actions of those who attacked McCreight. I do, however, think it worth pointing out that the way she was treated was little different to the way she treated others, in the hope that she (on the off-chance she ever reads this thread) and others who think like her might re-examine their own behaviour. (Sort of like, to continue with the example, if a woman who encouraged her male friends to act aggressively and lustfully towards other women suddenly found herself on the receiving end, she’d hopefully realise that what she’d been doing was wrong and resolve not to do it in future.)

          • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

            Both are justifications of things which ought not be justified.

            Well, then you can just come right out and quote me saying that what McCreight experienced was justified.

            You’re going to have to deal with this: “That’s not to justify what happened to McCreight. It’s just to point out the hypocrisy in play here. ”

            So, let’s play a game. Can you withdraw your insinuation that I’ve “justified” what happened to McCreight, or the insinuation that I’ve argued she “deserved” it? Because if you do that, I’ll gladly call it an honest mistake on your part, made in the passion of an online argument.

            Otherwise, I’m going to have to call you out as a liar.

        • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

          My first impulse is to use some intemperate, not to mention vulgar language, in order to pithily express my opinion of where this discussion has been derailed.

          Well, it’s a good thing you avoided that, because my first impulse would have been to point out what a frantic lunatic you’d be behaving like for doing that.

          This discussion wasn’t “derailed”. A salient point was brought up. You just don’t happen to like the point.

          That’s a different topic and I’m not going to talk about it because that’s one more way in which the discussion has shifted from “women’s experience of sexism” to “she deserved it because she was a hypocrite.” In other words, dear sirs, you are blaming her for being raped because she wore a short skirt. YES, YOU DAMN WELL ARE, WHEN YOU START CALLING HER A HYPOCRITE.

          Really? That’s funny. I said multiple times that she didn’t deserve the treatment she got. Instead, I said that she contributed to the very culture that ended up turning on her – she didn’t fight what she should have fought. Insofar as she was trying to fight a nasty, hostile culture, she made a mistake and ultimately contributed to it by her past actions. It just so happened that, ultimately, it whipped around on her.

          But somehow, this is turning into the insanity of “YOU’RE JUST LIKE SOMEONE BLAMING A RAPE VICTIM FOR WEARING A SHORT SKIRT!” Because… what? Because the very idea of McCreight having contributed poorly to the very culture she was supposed to be fighting against is unthinkable? The idea that McCreight made a mistake in the behavior she condoned and engaged is verboten?

          Sorry. I don’t agree. And chances are neither do you, because I notice pretty much everyone who’s acting outraged at the comparison I’m drawing won’t dare to defend that very culture, much less McCreight’s attitude toward and acceptance of it. Instead it’s, “Crude the topic isn’t McCreight, it’s something else – anything else, so long as it doesn’t involve pointing out any flaws in the culture McCreight was part of, justified, and contributed to”.

          And that, gentlemen, is how women navigate in this modern day world of ours.

          Apparently, some of you also navigate by engaging in the most clannish behavior, utterly immune to any self-examination, because ONLY MEN WHO THINK RAPE IS OKAY WOULD EVER SUGGEST YOU EVER MADE A WRONG CHOICE. (Sorry, I have to get in some of the all-caps drama. Gotta fit in, y’know?)

          McCreight was wrong. She helped to create and perpetuate a nasty culture, and she was okay with that so long as she thought she was the one behind the harassment guns, not in front of them. She should not have been harassed, abused, or the like. Nor should she have ever condoned such behavior.

          Mistakes: women can make them. Get used to it.

          • deiseach

            Okay, enlighten this dumb female: why did you IMMEDIATELY switch the topic of Leah’s post from “An example of sexism in action featuring Jen McCreight” to “Jen McCreight made a poorly-thought out jokey throw-away remark about laughing at creationists – she was asking to be mocked by the mockers!”

            You spend a lot of time telling us how awful and mean those atheists were and are when it comes to religion and believers. Well, duh, I think most of us who are believers and who have engaged with the nastier fringe of the New Atheism (I mean the cheering section over at “Pharyngula” for one) are well aware of this. You go on to hammer us over the head about McCreight being happy to go along with this as long as it was not directed at her or those she cared about, in a blend of ‘pot and kettle’ and ‘sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’. You are quite happy to argue with others about atheists’ misbehaviour versus believers’ misbehaviour.

            Have you addressed, commented on, or discussed the topic at hand, which is NOT who is a bigger meanie – the atheist or the believer? Let me remind you: the topic is SEXISM. Not hypocrisy, failure to live up to standards, double standards, not recognising one’s own bias and prejudice, or any of the other tangents this thread has been diverted down.

            I have seen nothing, so far, about that topic. I have seen no realisation that there still remains, even within our modern society, a pervasive strain of sexism which affects women of all races, creeds or the lack of them, economic and social status, and ethnic affiliation. I have seen no reasoning about men contributing to that problem by ignoring women trying to bring such matters to their attention.

            In short, I’ve seen what I’ve come to expect from the majority of men, even those otherwise well-intentioned. Oh yeah, and I’ve also seen from you what I’ve come to expect in these discussions: “You get angry when someone provokes you to be angry? How thin-skinned and unreasonable of you!”

          • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

            Okay, enlighten this dumb female: why did you IMMEDIATELY switch the topic of Leah’s post from “An example of sexism in action featuring Jen McCreight” to “Jen McCreight made a poorly-thought out jokey throw-away remark about laughing at creationists – she was asking to be mocked by the mockers!”

            It was not a ‘switch of topic’. It was a post about Jen McCreight, how she was a valiant fighter for women’s rights, and how she was ultimately dumped on by atheists in a nasty way. Pointing out that her record actually had a flaw – one that ultimately helped harm her and other women – is no topic switch. It was something that people did not want to hear, something they do not like hearing, ESPECIALLY when we were supposed to all gather together and muse on the felling of a great warrior in this fight.

            But you need to hear it.

            Also, it was not a dumb throw-away line or a joke. It was her saying she wants to go back to the good ol’ days, where people insulted, mocked, and harassed people she disliked, instead of her. In other words, even in her final post, she was showing that she didn’t recognize a considerable mistake she made.

            You go on to hammer us over the head about McCreight being happy to go along with this as long as it was not directed at her or those she cared about, in a blend of ‘pot and kettle’ and ‘sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’.

            Stuff your sauce. Despite multiple attempts by people here to say otherwise, I never once said that she deserved the treatment she received. In fact, I said that my criticisms did NOT add up to ‘she deserved it’. They added up to a mistake she made, and which needed to be addressed.

            Let me remind you: the topic is SEXISM. Not hypocrisy, failure to live up to standards, double standards, not recognising one’s own bias and prejudice, or any of the other tangents this thread has been diverted down.

            McCreight’s mistakes IMPACT SEXISM. Again, despite what so many people here seem to want to believe, you can’t section off the sort of harassment McCreight received into its own exclusive corner such that no other attitudes or behavior are relevant to the discussion. When she was all in favor of mocking, attacking, insulting and degrading people she disagreed with, she was contributing to a cultural attitude that has considerable overlap with the very sexism she wants to fight. She was encouraging and turning a blind eye to knee jerk responses, mockery in the face of legitimate complaint, intentional misunderstanding and misrepresentation. Half of the fight against sexism comes down to those sorts of responses – so it’s a bad idea to encourage people to act like that in ANY area. Yet she did encourage it.

            I have seen no realisation that there still remains, even within our modern society, a pervasive strain of sexism which affects women of all races, creeds or the lack of them, economic and social status, and ethnic affiliation. I have seen no reasoning about men contributing to that problem by ignoring women trying to bring such matters to their attention.

            And I have seen no awareness on your part that you could even be wrong, in principle, about anything you discuss so long as it’s a sexism issue. I’ve seen no understanding that McCreight made mistakes in her fight against sexism, and seems to show little awareness of those mistakes. I have seen no awareness that women, even women who claim to be fighting sexism, can be part of the problem too.

            Oh yeah, and I’ve also seen from you what I’ve come to expect in these discussions: “You get angry when someone provokes you to be angry? How thin-skinned and unreasonable of you!”

            Yes! Yes, you are thin skinned and unreasonable! That’s not propaganda from Man Central. That’s you acting nuts when someone disagrees with you or says something you dislike. The fact that something made you angry doesn’t make your anger or angry responses justified. Do you really think otherwise? Because if so, well, there’s part of where you’re going wrong right there.

            Nor do you get a ‘Get out of crazy free’ card just because you feel strongly about this issue or have had ****ty experiences.

      • Kristen inDallas

        “It wasn’t a general post about the problems women face. It was a fairly specific post about a particular woman”

        No Crude, it was not. Read title: “Against a Sea of Sexists”. NOT: “Against a puddle of people with a nuanced opinion on whether or not a particular female may or may not have been a hypocrite (not that that justifies sexism, I’m just pointing it out (over and over and over).)”

        You see, references to McCreight are serving here as what we female-types refer to as an illustrative case. Believe it or not, but often, when a female states what she believes to be a rather obvious fact (something like, “Gosh as advanced as our society is supopsed to be, it’s still awfully sexist”) she is confronted with a bunch of denial of the form of “Aw… it’s not THAT bad, you’re just being sensitive, go wash a dish or something.”

        Some people, when their version of reality is confronted like that, will go run for data. Now I like data, but data is only as good as it’s source. And data pointing out the flaws of an entire culture, undertaken by the very same culture intent on hiding it’s flaws, isn’t always the top of the ole google hit-list. And it’s not generally worth while to search the bowels of datadum to prove a point which, to anyone with eyes open, OUGHT to be as obvious as the nose on my face.

        So that’s when we women-folk turn to anecdote. Swapping stories about our sisters in arms, we know it’s true because SEE there it is! And there and there and there! We link to the happenings around McCreight, not because we think she’s the noblest example, the least “deserving” for that kind of hatred (B/C “deserve” has NOTHING to do with it) but because her example (as a former blogger) is well documented, easy to point to, and FULL of many many many anecdotes spewing all over the comboxes. If we wanted to cite evidence that some atheists can be really nasty re christians, and some christians can be really nasty about other folks and on and on, there are plenty of better blogs to point to. THIS post, however, points to evidence of the rampant online sexism that all women (not just the hypocritical ones) are confronted with on a daily basis. Jen’s not the only one who reads the rape and death threats. Leah read them too, and as a female who also has a blog and several opinions about things, how does it make her feel, I wonder. Does she “deserve it”? Do I, or the countless little sisters and teen-aged daughters that stumbled across that vile nonsense. This is the society we live in. Are you proud of it? Are you doing anything to change it? Those are the questions we haven’t gotten to ask while you monopolize the conversation with your sexism-apologetics.

        • Kristen inDallas

          Clarifying when I say that women (leah, myself, sisters and daughters) are reading the rape threats, I don’t mean that Leah has gotten them directly, but that we do SEE this stuff happening. You can’t watch a person get attacked and feel the same confidence walking down the same street the next day…

        • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

          No Crude, it was not. Read title:

          Once you’re done with the title, try reading the post itself. You know, the post where McCreight’s actions, attitudes and experiences feature prominently?

          Does she “deserve it”? Do I, or the countless little sisters and teen-aged daughters that stumbled across that vile nonsense. This is the society we live in. Are you proud of it? Are you doing anything to change it?

          Does she deserve it? No, she doesn’t. You’ll notice that I said that she does NOT deserve it, and that my pointing out her track record didn’t justify what happened to her. The last time I saw anyone talking about someone “Deserving” such treatment in this thread, it was someone I disagreed with me and saying that Sarah Palin deserves all the mockery, hatred, name-calling, and contempt she’s gotten. By the way, that mockery list includes drawing pornography of her, editing her face into pornographic images, vicious gender-based slurs, and more.

          But hey, she’s on the wrong political side, so she can just take it all and suck it up, right? It’s a good time to ask you if you denounce that, I suppose.

          And as for am I doing anything to change it?

          Yes, I am. For one thing, I’m pointing out where some of your “sisters-in-arms” have FAILED as leaders. I know, I know – it’s horrible to hear, difficult to endure, this idea that someone you respect, someone who experienced some nastiness, may well have made a mistake at some point. But frankly, you’ve got to hear it. Because when you try to ignore it, when you try to bury it under “No no no we’re not talking about that, it’s wrong to point out mistakes she made, she was a VICTIM!” or bizarre claims that someone pointing out the all too obvious is on the level of saying “she deserved to be raped, look at the skirt she was wearing”, you’re not helping your cause.

          • Kristen inDallas

            I never stated that she was flawless. Hell I’m not even a fan. I read Bristol Palin’s blog more often than McCreights. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m going to point out, and get upset by the fact that EVERY TIME I’ve EVER read any blog or piece dealing with sexism / sexual harrasment it gets railroaded by someone into a being a discussion of the imperfections of the particular person highlighted as an example. PLEASE try to imagine why this might get a little annoying after a while. I am ALL FOR discussions about places where we (men or women, individuals or groups) have failed, because it’s what helps us grow. But having that discussion in leui of acknowledgement of our OWN failures, is nothing but blatant whitewashing.

    • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

      Exactly, Deiseach. And Crude, I may be misinterpreting Leah’s collecting together these posts and articles, but the thread isn’t about Jen McCreight, it is about What Jen McCreight Experienced and How it Represents How a lot of Women Are Treated. McCreight may be a jerk, she may be mean to religious people, she may kick puppies, she may litter, but none of that is particularly relevant to the discussion, which is the particular way women (and only women) get treated by some people.

      In one sense, yes, mocking and attacking women is the same as mocking and attacking religious people — it’s Being Mean. But in another, more specific sense it is very different because of historical, biological, sociological (etc. etc.) contexts. While it can be relevant and important to point out how they are akin, it is a mistake to ignore those contexts.

      • leahlibresco

        BINGO!

      • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

        but the thread isn’t about Jen McCreight, it is about What Jen McCreight Experienced and How it Represents How a lot of Women Are Treated.

        And my comment was about what Jen McCreight experienced, the culture that played a role in it, and her attitude about said culture not only in the past, but in her very ‘goodbye’ post. To say that I was off-topic takes some very creative interpretation of what being ‘on-topic’ is.

        McCreight may be a jerk, she may be mean to religious people, she may kick puppies, she may litter, but none of that is particularly relevant to the discussion, which is the particular way women (and only women) get treated by some people.

        Sorry, but no. When McCreight felt at home condoning and taking part in a culture of abuse, mockery, harassment, slurs and more, she was contributing to a culture of hatred and vilification. There is overlap. It’s not like suddenly everyone realized that McCreight was a WOMAN of all things and went after her. It was triggered by her having unpopular opinions that she dared to air in public, and the culture she was part of ended up treating her similar to how they treat other people with unpopular opinions they dare to air in public.

        She should have been fighting for respect and against the mockery, belittling, and harassment of religious people as well. Not ultimately defending a position of, “You can’t treat people of this gender, or of these political views this way… oh, but religious people? Go to town on them, they have it coming.”

        But in another, more specific sense it is very different because of historical, biological, sociological (etc. etc.) contexts. While it can be relevant and important to point out how they are akin, it is a mistake to ignore those contexts.

        Well, I’m glad someone at least is willing to cop to the comparison and note being relevant and important to point out.

        Do they differ? Sure. Largely in ways that are, frankly, quite incidental. Or is someone here going to say – perhaps Leah herself – that it’s A-OK to attack and condemn religious people, mock them, insult them, threaten them, harass them… but only if it’s because of their beliefs?

        Let’s put another spin on it. Let’s say Jen McCreight didn’t get the reaction she did due to her feminist talk. Let’s say that she decided that she was now a conservative Mormon. Everything else stayed the same: the harassment, the slander, the names she was called, the threats, the harassing of her loved ones.

        Will anyone on this blog say that that’s a different situation, and it would then be justified? Because again, someone on this thread seemed to suggest that it was A-OK to go after Sarah Palin in nasty way after nasty way, including direct assaults involving her gender, because hey – they don’t like her or her politics. She thinks she’s so smart, you know.

        • Alex

          Could you please give an example of Jen threatening/harassing/insulting them in way that is comparable to the threats/comments she has received? I would cite examples, but I don’t want to pollute the comment thread.

        • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

          “It was triggered by her having unpopular opinions that she dared to air in public, and the culture she was part of ended up treating her similar to how they treat other people with unpopular opinions they dare to air in public.”

          “Let’s say Jen McCreight didn’t get the reaction she did due to her feminist talk. Let’s say that she decided that she was now a conservative Mormon. Everything else stayed the same: the harassment, the slander, the names she was called, the threats, the harassing of her loved ones.”

          No, they did not treat her similarly. Switching Jen McCreight from liberal atheist to conservative Mormon misses the point. A better scenario would be switching Jen McCreight to John McCreight, expressing any controversial opinion at all — the treatment he would have gotten would wave been vastly different. He would not have been called a “slut, prude, ugly, fat,” he would not have been subjected to “graphic, lewd, degrading sexual comments about [his] personal life,” he would not have been threatened with rape. He would have been subjected to different vitriol, maybe as bad maybe not (although I bet the threat of physical violence generally affects women more than men), but it would have been different. Being a man would have de facto shielded him from certain kinds of attacks.

          “Well, I’m glad someone at least is willing to cop to the comparison and note being relevant and important to point out.”

          Gee, thanks.

          “Because again, someone on this thread seemed to suggest that it was A-OK to go after Sarah Palin in nasty way after nasty way”

          That someone was not me, or Deiseach, or Leah, or Kirsten, or in fact anyone other than that one person. (And as you acknowledge, that person might not have actually intended to suggest that.)

          • leahlibresco

            Bingo.

          • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

            No, they did not treat her similarly.

            Yes, they did. Because it was a hypothetical example where that’s exactly what happened. That was the point.

            . A better scenario would be switching Jen McCreight to John McCreight, expressing any controversial opinion at all — the treatment he would have gotten would wave been vastly different. He would not have been called a “slut, prude, ugly, fat,” he would not have been subjected to “graphic, lewd, degrading sexual comments about [his] personal life,” he would not have been threatened with rape.

            Okay, this is just wrong. Not completely wrong, but wrong all the same.

            He would not have been threatened with rape? Probably not, you’re right. Probably would have been threatened with being killed – but it seems likely McCreight got that as well.

            Slut? No, probably not that. That’s pretty gender-specific, I’ll grant you.

            Fat and ugly? If you don’t think guys are called this by people who are pissed at them, all I’ll say is ‘you’re wrong’. Pretty common barb.

            Prude? Uh, depending on the context, quite possibly. He definitely would have been called a virgin (yes, as an insult) unless there was proof positive that he had sex at some point. Also, ‘degrading, graphic, lewd comments about his sexual life’? Again, if you don’t think guys who are getting piled on get this, you’re missing out. ‘Virgin’ is thrown out. ‘Faggot’ is thrown out. Graphic descriptions about masturbation habits are thrown out. Insults about dick size are thrown out. So yeah, ‘sexually degrading’ really does come up.

            I’m not saying that men get it worse than women in these exchanges, but I had to go through and point out that some of the ‘Men would never get this’ claims are just plain wrong.

            That someone was not me, or Deiseach, or Leah, or Kirsten, or in fact anyone other than that one person. (And as you acknowledge, that person might not have actually intended to suggest that.)

            And I am not someone who claimed that McCreight deserved the treatment she got, despite multiple people – Kirsten and Deisach – strongly implying such.

            Regardless, you seem to have completely missed the point of the hypothetical example. You seemed to suggest that Leah getting attacked was different because of her opinions about sexism, and that’s different from being attacked for other reasons. I pointed out that ‘what her beliefs were that triggered this treatment’ are pretty much irrelevant.

          • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

            “And I am not someone who claimed that McCreight deserved the treatment she got, despite multiple people – Kirsten and Deisach – strongly implying such.”

            Nor am I accusing you of that. Rather, my point is that in a discussion of how McCreight and other women are treated because of their gender, is it not necessary to bring up anything wrong that McCreight has done to religious people, because that is not the point (unless one was accusing her of dishing out the same sexist treatment she received, which is not what you are accusing her of).

            I knew as I wrote “fat,” “prude,” etc. you’d likely counter with examples of men being mocked for being virgins, masturbating, etc. Given beauty standards and the general tendency to value a woman primarily based on her looks, calling a man “ugly” is not the same as calling a woman “ugly” (in fact, a great many men I know pride themselves in their ugliness). “Prude” is not the same as “virgin,” and I have never seen a man accused of prudery, not even all those male priests and bishops who say no to pre-marital sex. I have seen the gross sexual comments sometimes made to men, but in my opinion, and I bet in the opinion of some others here, it’s not the same. It is because context matters — men are far less likely to get raped (and this is a crucial fact, given how often the mistreatment we are talking about here involves threats of sexual violence), they are far less likely to get coerced, they are far less likely to be powerless or less powerful in sexual relationships. The sexual comments directed at men tend to lack the violence and abuse that is present in sexual comments made to women.

            Again, because it cannot be said enough, context matters. Because of long-standing sexual violence against women, because of the long-standing tendency to reduce women to nothing more than sexual objects, because of the double standard when it comes to sex, because of a history of trying to silence women who speak up, even because of so-called locker-room humor, one simply cannot say with a straight face that a vulgar, sexual comment directed at a man has the same significance and effect as such a comment directed at a woman.

    • Kristen inDallas

      You win the internet!

  • http://www.ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca Randy

    But is the answer to why women are treated badly somewhere in the sexual revolution? When consent becomes the sole barrier to having sex with a woman then I can see an incentive for men to treat women in all sorts of degrading ways. They might work once in a while. At the very least a man can fantasize about it. Remember consent only need be for a moment. If a woman is drunk or depressed so much the better, maybe she can be manipulated.

    This is where we are at. This what passes as moral. People complain about it but nobody wants to change it. What is needed is a strong social stigma against casual sex. Doing it. Suggesting it. Joking about it. When a man meets a woman and knows he is weeks if not months away from getting her into bed then he is going to treat her with a lot more class. But our society is terrified of sexual morality. No matter the cost we won’t go there.

    • Niemand

      But is the answer to why women are treated badly somewhere in the sexual revolution?

      This statement implies that you believe that women were never treated badly prior to the “sexual revolution”. That implication is so ahistoric that I hesitate to reply to it without confirming that that is, indeed, what you mean.

      • http://www.ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca Randy

        I would not say they were never treated badly. That will always happen. But there was a shame in speaking too crudely too quickly to a woman you didn’t know. That is what has disappeared. So when I said “treated badly” I meant the precise type of bad treatment the post is talking about. That is the strong and persistent sexual advances. I know there is a huge exaggerated notion of how many women are looking for sex with a stranger. Even at the best of times we tend to overestimate small chances.

        • Niemand

          But there was a shame in speaking too crudely too quickly to a woman you didn’t know. That is what has disappeared.

          If it had really disappeared, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. There is still a shame in speaking or acting crudely to a woman or man. Furthermore, that shame now extends to all women, not just to “ladies”. In the days of chivalry and women being considered too delicate to deal with the world, poor women were considered fair game for any wealthy man who wanted to abuse her and there were few enough protections for even wealthy women. Marital rape is a relatively new concept legally, but any married woman in the 19th or early to mid 20th century knew what it meant.

          But I will agree with you that there is less shame in “speaking crudely” or propositioning a woman in certain situations than there should be. It strikes me more as backlash or men not adjusting to the idea of women being independent people than a product of “feminism” though. Why should Watson’s comment “guys, don’t do that” elicit so much anger? Because men feel that they should have the right to proposition any woman who does not have a male protector and is not staying in her “place”. That is a very pre-feminist idea. A 19th century man would not understand why Watson objected to being propositioned in an elevator. A 21st century man…should.

        • Niemand

          I meant the precise type of bad treatment the post is talking about. That is the strong and persistent sexual advances.

          What McCreight is facing is not truly sexual advances, but rather aggression. Few, if any, of the comments she has received were actually propositions. They were more often crude remarks about the writer’s perception of her sexuality or other characteristics. They were about bullying and dominating, not about sex. If McCreight had written to one of her harassers and said, “You sound cute. Let’s meet some place and have sex” I strongly suspect that said harasser would have run screaming: They’re not after sex, they’re after power.

    • Niemand

      When a man meets a woman and knows he is weeks if not months away from getting her into bed then he is going to treat her with a lot more class.

      No response, so I’ll ignore the implication that women were better off before they could vote and concentrate on this comment instead.

      Can you really imagine no interaction between men and women that doesn’t end with the man “getting her into bed”? I’m friends with people of both genders, the vast majority of whom will never get into bed with me. I find it very easy to be friends, colleagues, and acquaintances with people without putting them through some sort of metric about how soon I expect to get them in bed and therefore how well I have to treat them to get the planned “reward” for putting up with them.

      Incidentally, I never have understood the “dump her after you sleep with her” thing that some men do. It’s like they don’t really like sex at all and certainly don’t want to have it a second time. I can’t explain the desire to never see someone who is actually willing to put up with them long enough to sleep with them again after the event in any other way.

      • http://www.ephesians4-15.blogspot.ca Randy

        Not sure what I said about women voting. Do I think women are better off now? In some ways yes. In other ways we have gone backwards. So why not keep the forward progress and lose the backwards stuff?

        The rest of the comments seem non-responsive as well. I was focusing on men and women who don’t know each other well. That is when the unwanted sexual advances can be an issue. It is not all men. But those that do pursue casual sex end up offending many women to get very little sex. That sort of behavior is not really discouraged by society.

  • http://serioislywhimsical.wordpress.com Jennifer

    I can’t believe there are people here comparing the mocking of creationists to a full-blown campaign of sexual harrassment.

    You are born with your gender.

    You choose your religious beliefs, just as you choose any other idea about the world. Is it wrong to mock, say, the ideas of flat-earthers? Or Tea-partiers? Why? Why should religion be especially exempt from the mockery of bad ideas?

    • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

      I can’t believe there are people here comparing the mocking of creationists to a full-blown campaign of sexual harrassment.

      The two are not mutually exclusive. Mocking someone because they’re a creationist can and, frankly, often does result in sexually degrading insults and such.

      You choose your religious beliefs, just as you choose any other idea about the world. Is it wrong to mock, say, the ideas of flat-earthers? Or Tea-partiers? Why? Why should religion be especially exempt from the mockery of bad ideas?

      So being a theist or atheist is a choice, such that I can just decide tomorrow “Well, okay, I’m a mormon now.”?

      Second, alright – you just justified a sizable share, quite possibly the Lion’s share, of insults and attacks McCreight received. After all, what triggered quite a lot of her harassment and mockery and the like were her beliefs about feminism and social justice. So if she was harassed because of her beliefs, not just because of her gender, then according to you this is much ado about nothing. Why should Jen McCreight’s beliefs be especially exempt from the mockery of bad ideas?

      Third, the mockery of the New Atheist movement goes beyond poking fun or laughing at what they dislike. You have Richard Dawkins and others expressly talking about mocking and belittling people in public to shut them up, or intimidating people through abuse into silence, or just plain insulting religious people to emotionally harm them. Heck, there was even an attempt to get Francis Collins derailed from his job appointment on the grounds that he was a religious believer. Yes, I suggest that treating people as subhuman – as objects of scorn, or contempt – is not something that should be encouraged, such that if you support vitriolic abuse in one context, you’re intentionally or not supporting it in multiple contexts.

      • http://seriouslywhimsical.wordpress.com Jennifer

        “The two are not mutually exclusive.”
        - Of course not, but this does not make them the same thing.

        “So being a theist or atheist is a choice, such that I can just decide tomorrow “Well, okay, I’m a mormon now.”?

        - No one is born a Catholic. You decide religious beliefs on a basis of your understanding of the world. Just like any other beliefs (for example, political beliefs).

        “After all, what triggered quite a lot of her harassment and mockery and the like were her beliefs about feminism and social justice. ”
        - This may have -triggered- the harassment and abuse, but the actual CONTENT of that abuse was overwhelmingly personal, sexist and misogynistic in content.

        Unless you can provide links to some sort of evidence that Jen has used similarly prejudiced language in her approach to creationists (that is, prejudiced on innate grounds of gender/race/sexuality, etc.), please stop trying to equate the critique of ideas with sexual harassment.

        And just in case it needs clarifying… I’m a different ‘Jen’, obviously. The curse of sharing a name with one of your favourite bloggers is the confusion in the comments section!

  • deiseach

    Crude says that I would be a “frantic lunatic” and that I am “too fragile for conversation, and should probably consider doing something else….because you’ve got skin so thin it’s probably translucent” if I am tempted to react with vulgarity when faced merely with “someone disagreeing with you on this subject.”

    I must admit, yes, I am motivated by anger born out of resentment.

    I resent being told to sit down and shut up if I can’t respond politely when faced yet again with a total missing of the point regarding women’s lived experience. I resent being told I am not entitled to be angry. I resent men taking over and telling women what they really meant to say, in a discussion about something affecting women. I resent having to prove my bona fides by washing my dirty linen in public, that is, by having to give details of my age and personal life in order merely to demonstrate that I have the right to participate in this discussion because it’s not good enough for me to state that I know this happened, I have to prove it – a burden of pro0f none of the men find necessary before they give their opinions.

    I resent that things have not moved on since 2006 and the last time I was engaged in one of these conversations, where a post about how it is not enough for women to lay all the blame on men, women need to take responsibility for the way they participate in the enforcing of social standards regarding what is and is not acceptable for female behaviour (in the context of a girl dying due to a botched attempt at self-circumcision because her friends teased her for not being circumcised – otherwise known as Female Genital Mutiliation) was hijacked by one (1) male commenter who immediately wrenched the discussion onto the topic of male circumcision (much further down the thread, he revealed himself to be an Intactivist) and basically went off on rants about how women oppressed men, how male domestic abuse and male rape were not taken seriously, that women all wanted to castrate men (no, seriously).

    I resent that we, the majority female commenters and participants, did not agree to kick him to the curb after his first post but wasted time on “civility rather than rage” (to quote the original post) because we felt (1) surely he would develop his argument and respond to reason when we made our case and (2) we had to prove that, as women, we could discuss such things rationally without being thin-skinned, fragile, frantic lunatics who used words like “bullshit” instead of being calm, polite, nice ladies who would never say such a thing.

    I resent not having my opinion taken seriously. Most of all, I resent being told that, unless I couch my replies in a proscribed register, I am a frantic lunatic.

    So yes, Crude, I am a thin-skinned female who is angry and too fragile to engage in robust dispute without bursting into tears or becoming irrationally angry. I mean, why else would I be so resentful?

    • http://crudeideas.blogspot.com Crude

      You know, I’m going to go line by line here, because maybe it iwll help.

      I must admit, yes, I am motivated by anger born out of resentment.

      That doesn’t make your behavior any less harmful to the movement you wish to promote, or any more sane.

      I resent being told to sit down and shut up if I can’t respond politely when faced yet again with a total missing of the point regarding women’s lived experience.

      It wasn’t mere ‘politeness’. It was you going off the deep end, accusing me of various things, including saying things I demonstrably did not say, in your anger. When your anger hits the point where you can’t even discuss things effectively, much less persuasively (‘Anger’ is only so persuasive), yeah, you should consider knocking it off. Unless your anger is more important than the topic.

      I resent being told I am not entitled to be angry.

      Never happened. Be as angry as you think you’re entitled to. Expect to be called out for acting crazy if you, indeed, act crazy. Expect to have it pointed out that your anger is screwing up your message and your goals if it seems to be doing that.

      I resent men taking over and telling women what they really meant to say, in a discussion about something affecting women.

      Never happened, and unless you have some kind of text-to-speech program, I’m incapable of talking over you here.

      I resent having to prove my bona fides by washing my dirty linen in public, that is, by having to give details of my age and personal life in order merely to demonstrate that I have the right to participate in this discussion because it’s not good enough for me to state that I know this happened, I have to prove it – a burden of pro0f none of the men find necessary before they give their opinions.

      Here’s an example of you actually – gotta say it again – being pretty crazy. I never asked you for your bona fides, and I never said you needed to demonstrate you ‘have a right to participate’. In fact, to be dead honest, I didn’t even know your gender until you volunteered that.

      In fact, as near as I can tell, NO ONE asked you to prove your bonafides in this thread. You just used the fact that I was disagreeing with you on a completely different subject to tell me some of your life story. You’re not being forced to ‘provide your bona fides’ when you’ll angrily yell about them the moment anyone so much as says ‘I think you’re wrong’.

      I resent that things have not moved on since 2006

      Have you been approaching these questions the same way since 2006 as you have in this thread? If so, perhaps the reason you’re not getting much traction – or the movement isn’t getting much traction – is because of how you’re handling the question. A crappy teacher doesn’t become a great teacher just because she is extremely angry and animated about the subject she’s teaching.

      I resent not having my opinion taken seriously. Most of all, I resent being told that, unless I couch my replies in a proscribed register, I am a frantic lunatic.

      So, you want to be able to act however you please, accuse people of saying things they clearly did not say, be ridiculously over-hostile just because someone disagreed with you, launch into overly dramatic passive aggressive ‘lawdy lawdy I’m just a delicate sensitive princess-cupcake no MAN should have to listen to’ antics, AND not be accused of acting pretty nuts?

      No, not happening. Especially not when all over those things happen at once. It’s pretty crazy behavior on your part, and in the case of the ‘You think McCreight DESERVED to be harassed’, it’s also extraordinarily insulting. Notice – I resented a good chunk of what you said. I didn’t flip out. Because I know that doesn’t help

      So yes, Crude, I am a thin-skinned female who is angry and too fragile to engage in robust dispute without bursting into tears or becoming irrationally angry. I mean, why else would I be so resentful?

      See, this is exactly the sort of crap I mean. I didn’t mention your gender once. In fact, when I called you thin-skinned, I pointed out that it had nothing to do with you being woman. But here you are, recasting what I said as some kind of gender-specific insult.

      By the way, as cutting as this probably will come across, you need to hear it. If, in the course of this single conversation, you repeatedly accuse me of sexist acts I did not engage in (suggesting McCreight deserved the treatment she got), or sexist words I did not say (Suggesting I called you thin-skinned because you’re a woman, when I specifically said your sex had nothing to do with it), do you think this will have an effect on my trusting you – you personally – to evaluate the sexism in someone else’s behavior or actions in the future? Or will I decide that I better be careful when you say it, because you’ve got this damn habit of projecting sexism onto people or into words when they are manifestly not there?

  • joost rademaekers

    This documentary http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xsknaq_femme-de-la-rue-sexism-in-the-streets-of-brussels-english-subtitles_webcam fired up the discussion in Belgium/Brussels last summer. The images are quite hallucinating. Although I live in a same sort of neighbourhood as the one pictured in this documentary, I never witnessed such behaviour. That doesn’t mean ther’s no such behaviour where I live but that as a man I can’t even start to imagine the things wommen hear and how they feel about it.

    joost r


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